Day -21: Reflections on Malaysia

The picture above is of Johor Malaysia, taken from the bridge over Kranji Reservoir in northern Singapore.

Like many Southeast Asian based folks, I’m both surprised and not surprised by the election of Mahathir as the new Prime Minister in Malaysia.   Surprised because the incumbent party had used every trick in the book to ensure reelection; not surprised because it was clear a change was needed.   The scale of corruption of the last government was breathtaking — billions of dollars were siphoned off.

Mahathir is 92.   In Mahathir’s last run he was the Trump of SE Asia — bombastic, nationalistic, creative.   He picked fights with the US, with Singapore, with prior protégés, with the IMF — and he often won.   He rarely used the past as the starting point for what should be the future.   In many ways he is the father of the current mess.

Many are hopeful, including me, that he is going to make the most of his “second chance.”   He has allied himself with the party and family of the man he had put in jail — Anwar Ibrahim.   He has already secured Anwar’s release.   I look for an analogy and it would be like Trump deciding to reconcile himself with Obama and making Michelle Vice President.   However, it is just hope.   Mahathir seems to be guided mostly by an internal compass.

The first question out of many people’s mouth when I talk about the upcoming trip is not “why are you doing this?”   It is “what do you think of Trump?”   The world is fascinated, perplexed, horrified, entertained by Trump.   They just can’t imagine how someone like him could get elected President.   I’m not going to answer that question today, but I promise to answer it somewhere in Missouri/Illinois/Indiana.   That feels like Trump country.   Let me listen to both sides first.

Saturday 12 May 2018 Training:   Rode 132 kilometers in just over 5 hours today.   According to “Ride with GPS” I averaged a moving speed of 28.1 kmh.   No breaks except to top up my liquids.  That’s pretty good for me on such a long ride.   By the end it was very hot and humid and sunny and uncomfortable.   Probably how it will feel in Missouri and Kansas.


3 thoughts on “Day -21: Reflections on Malaysia

  1. Like your essay a lot. Listening to both sides is always a good idea. Traveling to other countries with an open, non-judgemental mind. We all need to do more of it.

    Did you take the picture?


  2. “I’m not going to answer that question today, but I promise to answer it somewhere in Missouri/Illinois/Indiana. That feels like Trump country. Let me listen to both sides first.”

    I look forward to your answer. I’ve been doing that since the election and am still without answer making logical sense to me. Prior to the election, I rode my motorcycle from Indiana to NYC, across rural America, namely OH and PA- two swing states. Upon arrival in NYC, based on my informal poll of yard signs, I declared Hillary was in trouble. Trump yard signs outnumbered Hillary, something like 100:1 in rural America. I bet you’ll see many of those yards signs still standing proudly.


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